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Please note: Home Office Circular 25/2006 entitled “Electronic Monitoring on Bail for Adults – Procedures” is out of date and does not reflect current practice. The circular is being revised and an updated version will be available shortly. In the interim, if electronic monitoring subjects have any concerns regarding the procedures they should contact the monitoring centre on the telephone number provided in their induction booklet.
Home Office circular 25 / 2006
Electronic monitoring on bail for adults - procedures
Broad subject: Justice
Issue date: Fri Sep 01 00:00:00 BST 2006
National Offender Management Service (NOMS) - Offender, Law and Sentencing Policy Directorate, Rebalancing Sentencing Team
No Linked Circulars
Copies sent to:
Chief Police Officers (England and Wales), Chief Probation Officers, Chief Crown Prosecutor, HM Prison Service, The Magistrates’ Association, The Justices’ Clerks’ Society, The Law Society, Crown Court Judges, Council of Circuit Judges
Sub category: Justice system management
Implementation date: Fri Sep 01 00:00:00 BST 2006
Court Managers, The Clerk to the Justices
This Home Office Circular is to advise the courts, police, CPS, probation and prisons about the procedures that will be followed when courts decide that an adult defendant should be subject to electronic monitoring, or ‘tagging’ whilst on bail.
The guidance has been drawn up by the Home Office National Offender Management Service in consultation with the electronic monitoring suppliers and relevant services and agencies.
Earlier guidance issued by the Home Office in respect of tagging of juveniles on bail remains extant, except that the contact details for suppliers and others should be replaced with the updated details at Annex A. The two previous guidance notes that remain extant are the Home Office Guidance: “Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 : Electronic Monitoring of 12-16 year olds on Bail and on Remand to Local Authority Accommodation,” issued on 17 April 2002 and the Home Office Guidance: “Electronic Tagging of 17 year olds on Bail” issued on 12 December 2003.
Awareness of the procedures will enable courts to make decisions based on an understanding of the risks. Good communication between the agencies managing the use of tagging and the breach and enforcement processes is essential.
Tagging as a condition
Tagging is available as a condition of bail in support of a curfew condition. The monitoring will ensure that compliance with the curfew can be checked and that if a curfew is breached the police are very quickly alerted.
The intention of the Home Secretary in making tagging more available is that it should be used as an alternative to remand in custody.
There are no statutory minimum or maximum curfew hours for bail cases. Nor is tagging of adults restricted to those who are charged with imprisonable offences. The Bail Act 1976 as amended restricts tagging of juveniles to those who are charged with offences which would be imprisonable offences for adults.
Tagging is not tracking. It does not provide continuous information on the whereabouts of the subject. An alert is generated at the supplier’s monitoring centre if the defendant leaves the curfew address during the curfew period set by the court, or removes or tampers with the tag.
Tagging is not available for police bail.
Courts are invited to note the availability of tagging on bail for adults as well as youths and to note the procedures and suggested practices in this Circular that will aid the effective operation of the tagging facility.
Courts should note that the installation of a tag and monitoring arrangements by the supplier can take up to midnight on the day after the hearing to be completed. It may not therefore be possible for suppliers to give effect to a tagging order of less than 2 days duration.
It will help to manage risks if courts can prioritise tagging cases and can order that the curfew period on the first day should start in late afternoon, say at 3 p.m. rather than later in the evening, to enable the suppliers to carry out installation the same day whenever possible. Prisoners who are tagged when released from prison on Home Detention Curfew are subject to curfew from 3pm on the first day.
It will also help reduce risks and support effective enforcement and breach action if the court imposes as conditions of bail on the Bail Order:
a requirement that the defendant cooperates with the arrangements for installing the tag and equipment, whenever this is to take place
a condition requiring the defendant to present himself or herself to a police officer who calls at the curfew address during the period of curfew. (This will help police to follow up a reported absence)
The aim of such ancillary conditions would be to prevent absconding or re-offending, by ensuring that the tagging arrangements are operative.
Court staff need to ensure that they have the arrangements in place to notify suppliers, police and prisons when the court decides a defendant can be bailed on a tag, and to liaise effectively to deal with any queries and to notify suppliers if the tagging is to be ended early - for example when a case is discontinued by the prosecution.
Prosecutors and police are asked to consider the option of a tagging condition in deciding whether or not to oppose bail, or to continue to oppose bail. It is expected that defence lawyers may challenge opposition to bail for clients for whom they consider a curfew with tagging would provide a sufficient safeguard. Prison and probation staff who provide bail information reports to the courts through prosecutors may flag up the possibility of tagging.
Police are also asked to ensure that arrangements for responding to reported non-compliances by bailees are adequate in terms of speed of response and effectiveness, bearing in mind the risk posed by the individual.
Electronic monitoring suppliers (for whom updated contact details are provided at Annex A) will carry out installation and will respond to violations as set out at paragraphs 42-51 below.
Probation Areas and prisons will ensure that where a bail information interview is conducted and a bail address is offered then if a landlord/householder who is not the defendant lives at the address he/she is asked whether he/she would be willing for the defendant to be tagged at that address. Information should be included in the bail information report.
Suitability of address
Courts will have existing arrangements for considering the suitability of an address as a bail address, with or without tagging, based on police advice - in the context of the nature of the charge(s) and known risks, including for example the acceptability of the home address as a bail address in a domestic violence case.
It is rare that there is any technical problem with tagging at an address. Courts can presume that there will be no such problems. If, in seeking to install equipment, the supplier does find that the technology cannot be effective then the supplier will inform the police who will bring the defendant back to court immediately.(Paragraph 36 below refers.)
As regards landlord or householder agreement to having a tagged defendant on the premises, this has not been a problem in the many cases of tagging on bail carried out before and since September 2005. In most cases the equipment no longer requires any interference with the fabric or decor of the accommodation and the householder or landlord can reclaim the (minimal) costs of electrical supply to the monitoring unit
No single agency has a responsibility across England and Wales to provide to the court information on landlord/householder agreement to tagging. For cases where such information is considered necessary before a decision to tag is made different practices have developed locally. Courts and agencies should continue with whatever local arrangements have already developed or should agree locally which agency will make checks in advance of a decision to tag, when possible and when considered necessary. Where probation or prison bail information staff are involved in a case they will generally check on the landlord/householder’s views on tagging in the process of verifying bail addresses. When dealing with tagging as a community order there is an obligation on the court to ensure that the premises are suitable for tagging and that others within the household are content for the offender to be tagged. In HDC cases the Probation Service will usually seek any views of other residents at the address on the proposed curfew of the prisoner to that address so that these can be taken into account by the Governor in deciding on HDC, but their agreement is not a requirement.
There will be no objections to tagging of defendants accommodated in Approved Premises.
A flowchart showing the stages in the process for handling notification and installation is at Annex B.
Court staff should send a copy of the Order containing details of the curfew and the requirement for tagging by fax or secure e-mail to the supplier, and to the police, and to the prison if the defendant was previously remanded in custody, (whether the hearing was in person or on video link) - contact details for suppliers are at Annex A. In youth cases there is a supervising officer who must also be informed. In cases of adult defendants there will not be a supervising officer unless the defendant is bailed to an Approved Premises.
To arrange tagging on bail for an adult defendant the court should send the form at Annex D to the supplier. The form at Annex G of the 2002 Guidance should still be used for youths.
In order to avoid any delay in installation the notification should be completed by the court and in particular should include the defendant’s postcode, date of birth and next court hearing date. If the defendant was previously remanded in custody it must also include the prison and the defendant’s prisoner number. It should be completed clearly (fax copies are often unclear) and should be sent to the supplier as early as possible in the day to allow arrangements for installation to take place the same day and to provide time for any queries to be resolved before court staff leave work.
A further notification is required if the curfew and tagging conditions are extended at subsequent hearings, or if they are terminated early - e.g. if a case is discontinued. The supplier must also be notified if any variation in curfew is granted between hearings.
Electronic Monitoring Suppliers
Two suppliers now provide electronic monitoring services throughout England and Wales. Contact details for each supplier are at Annex A, together with a list of the regions in which each operates.
The suppliers are responsible for installing the monitoring equipment, monitoring compliance with a curfew as a bail condition, and reporting any violation to the police. The processes of notification/installation and breach reporting are set out at annexes B and C. The form to be sent to suppliers to arrange tagging is at Annex D.
The performance of the suppliers is monitored closely by a dedicated Home Office Team. For example, suppliers are required to install on the same day provided they are notified by Courts before 3 p.m., and have a target to do so in 99% of such cases. Suppliers are also required to contact the curfew location in the event of a violation within 15 minutes in 99% of the cases. There are also service levels on timeliness in answering telephones and other performance of suppliers. Monthly audits are conducted and failure to meet agreed levels of performance result in deductions from the amount paid for delivering the service. Notificatio
On receiving the notification from the court, the supplier will check that the notification is complete and that the curfew details appear correct. Where this is not the case, the supplier will make all reasonable efforts to obtain the missing information or check the curfew details before the start of the first curfew period. This will require further contact with the court.
The defendant will travel from court or prison to the curfew address unescorted. The supplier will attend the curfew address and will explain the position to the householder. The supplier will install the monitoring equipment during curfew hours, and no later than midnight on the second day when the curfew is operating. More than 99% of cases are successfully installed in the first curfew period if court forms and bail notices are received that day before 3p.m.
The supplier will fit a transmitter device, the tag, to the defendant around the ankle. Occasionally defendant’s may have medical conditions which make it unsafe to tag the ankle. In such cases the defendant will be tagged around the wrist. But if in such a case there is a risk that the individual could slip the tag off of the wrist the supplier will advise the police that tagging is not possible in that case. The supplier will also install a receiver device, the monitoring unit, in a suitable location in the curfew address. The tag sends radio signals to the monitoring unit at frequent intervals, typically once every 30 seconds or so. The two devices are calibrated so that if the defendant leaves the curfew address the signal from the tag no longer reaches the monitoring unit.
The monitoring unit stores the signals from the tag and transmits them to a monitoring centre staffed by the supplier’s employees. There are two possible means of transmission. The norm, used in 93% of cases, is the GSM network used for mobile phone communications. If the curfew address supports a mobile signal the supplier may install a GSM monitoring unit. This can be used for monitoring straight away. The other is by a dedicated landline telephone. The supplier will arrange for the installation of a dedicated line by BT or another telecommunications provider.
If tagging technology will not be effective at the address
In rare cases, on visiting the premises the supplier may find that it will not be possible to use a GSM monitoring unit and that monitoring cannot be achieved without a landline being installed. It normally takes six working days for BT to install a telephone line, but it can take 2-3 weeks. In such cases the supplier will inform the police who will return the defendant to court. The court will need to decide whether a defendant should be remanded in custody for the period until monitoring can commence.
The suppliers will use drive-by monitoring as a check on the defendant’s presence until the defendant can be returned to court. In some cases where tagging is imposed as a Community Order suppliers may use ‘drive-by’ arrangements pending the installation of a landline. This delivers a check on the subject’s presence only when the drive by takes place - typically twice in 24 hours. It is considered that reliance on drive-by arrangements for the time it usually takes to install landlines (usually up to 6 days) would be inadequate and inappropriate in bail cases.
Advice to defendant
During the installation of the monitoring equipment, the supplier will give the defendant a booklet about the monitoring of compliance with a curfew imposed as a condition of bail. The booklet makes it clear that, except in an emergency or for exceptional reasons - such as the need for emergency medical treatment, to attend court as a witness, to attend a job interview or to attend a funeral - the defendant must apply to the court for permission to be absent during curfew hours. The defendant is also advised that he/she may apply to the court at any time for a temporary variation to the bail condition and that if the defendant does need to be absent during the curfew period for an exceptional reason he/she should inform the supplier and must provide evidence of the need. (The supplier will ensure that the police are made aware of the reason and the evidence when the breach is reported.)
Release from prison
If a defendant is released from prison on bail subject to a curfew supported by tagging the supplier will immediately advise the police locally, so that the police can update intelligence systems and advise alleged victims where appropriate. As a fail safe, suppliers should also notify the police control room supervisor when they have fitted an electronic monitoring device to the defendant. Where the name of the Officer in the Case is known it will help if this information also is passed to the police control room and the SPOC, to expedite contact with the right person.
Where the subject has been released from custody and the requirement is for daily monitoring the tagging equipment will normally be installed on the day of release.
Courts and suppliers should note that before releasing a defendant the prison will require written formal notification of the bail decision from the court (see para 25) - not from the supplier. Before releasing the defendant the prison will check that there are no other warrants or orders from courts or other authorities (e.g. Immigration and Nationality Department) that require the defendant to be retained in custody, and that any other bail conditions which must be met before release (e.g securities, sureties or passport surrender) have been met. Prisons will comply with existing instructions on the release of prisoners.
The tag is close-fitting and will not come off accidentally. It can only be removed by cutting the strap. The tag and monitoring unit are robust. Technical equipment failures are very rare.
If a tag is cut or tampered with this will generate an alert which is transmitted to the supplier’s control centre and which will result in enforcement action. Similarly, a break in signal caused by the defendant moving outside the curfew address will also register at the monitoring centre.
The supplier will treat any of the following as a violation of the electronic monitoring aspect of the bail tagging conditions - and will report it by fax or e-mail to the agreed police contact point for the force.
Being absent for a total of 15 minutes or more during any curfew period.
Intentional or reckless damage to any part of the monitoring equipment, removal of the equipment or allowing others to damage or remove the equipment.
The threat or use of violence by the defendant against the supplier’s staff.
Refusal to allow installation of equipment, or to induct.
In the case of an absence violation (i.e. of more than 15 minutes absence) being recorded the supplier will telephone the defendant at the curfew address within 15 minutes. If the defendant is not present the case is reported to the agreed police contact as a breach within the next 15 minutes.
Where tampering or tag removal is suspected the supplier will telephone the defendant to check he/she is at the curfew address and will visit the defendant within 4 hours to check whether there has been tampering or a technical fault with the equipment. If the defendant is not at the address when telephoned the supplier will treat this as an absence violation. If, on visiting, tampering is confirmed the case is reported to the agreed police contact as a breach within 15 minutes of confirmation.
In the event of damage to the monitoring equipment, the supplier may decide that the defendant can no longer be monitored. In such cases the supplier will inform the police and the defendant will be returned to court.
The threat or use of violence against staff, refusal to allow installation or to induct and a finding that the premises are unsuitable are all treated as automatic breaches, which are reported immediately to the police.
After an absence breach has been reported to the police, the supplier will continue to monitor the curfew address until advised in writing that the defendant has been arrested and detained in custody. If the monitoring shows that the defendant has returned to the curfew address during curfew hours the supplier will inform the police control room immediately.
Following a report of breach a s. 9 statement will be sent by the supplier to the police as soon as possible. Where an arrest takes place outside of court hours the s.9 statement should be provided by no later than 8 a.m. of the next available court date. If the arrest is made within court hours and there are no other offences to deal with the s. 9 statement should be provided as quickly as possible so that the defendant can be returned to court that day. In any event it will be provided within 24 hours.
The arrangements for reporting of violations in youth cases and for responding are as set out in the 2002 and 2003 Guidance.
Completion of a bail order - de-installation
The supplier will remove the ankle tag and monitoring unit at the curfew address before midnight of the night before the scheduled court hearing. The equipment will be reinstalled if the court decides to re-bail and to extend the tagging requirement.
The CPS and ACPO have given assurances that they will take vigorous action in respect of anyone who breaches conditions whilst tagged on bail. In cases subject to tagging the police will be alerted quickly about any breaches of curfew. When a breach is reported by the supplier the police will apprehend the defendant as soon as possible and will normally return the defendant to court.
The police will inform the supplier when a defendant is arrested following a breach.
If the defendant is not located and arrested quickly the police will record on PNC that the defendant is wanted and a ‘wanted file’ including evidence of the breach will be held in the Warrants Office. The local intelligence unit will alert officers, and efforts to track down the defendant will be made. The CPS/CJU will be informed and provided with a copy of the breach statement.
The police will ensure that the s 9 Statement and any further information provided by the supplier are passed to the CPS so that the prosecutor is fully informed.
Police will need to ensure that forms MG7 (remand/conditional bail) and MG8 (breach of bail) are fully completed. An ACPO reminder to this effect was issued on 28 July 2005 by ACC Rob Taylor Proper completion of remand applications and breach of bail conditions forms will ensure that courts are able to make remand decisions that are fully informed by all of the circumstances of the case before them.
If a defendant breaches a bail condition other than the curfew or the tagging conditions - e.g. contacting a witness - or is arrested on suspicion of a criminal offence, and the defendant is charged and police bail refused, the police will inform the supplier on the arrest of the defendant so that the supplier knows why the defendant is now violating the curfew, and to allow the supplier to remove the monitoring equipment.
Where, in the course of other policing, the police come across a person who has damaged monitoring equipment or an ankle tag they should establish the nature of the tagging before taking action - the subject may be a defendant who is tagged on bail, an offender subject to a Community Order with a curfew requirement or an offender released from prison on Home Detention Curfew. The issue of a Penalty Notice for Disorder for the offence of criminal damage will not alone be a sufficient response.
For advice and enquiries please contact Electronic Monitoring Services (EMS):
North East, North West, East Midlands, Yorkshire, Humberside, South East, South West - 0161 862 1200
London, East of England, West Midlands, Wales - 08080 965 124
Home Office Circular 25/2006 entitled “Electronic Monitoring on Bail for Adults – Procedures” is out of date and does not reflect current practice. The circular is being revised and an updated version will be available shortly. In the interim, if electronic monitoring subjects have any concerns regarding the procedures they should contact the monitoring centre on the telephone number provided in their induction booklet.
Updated Annexes B to D document, and contact advice.